Welcome to the College of Social Sciences and Humanities. Our college is a leader in the experiential liberal arts: we combine Northeastern’s signature focus on experiential education with rigorous study of society, culture, and politics. As an organizational philosophy and an educational model, the experiential liberal arts guides all three parts of the college’s mission—research, teaching, and public engagement. Faculty and students in our college work together in modes that are key to a liberal arts education, such as analysis, interpretation, and philosophical debate. Equally important, they develop new proficiencies, such as text mining, data visualization, and philanthropic program evaluation. Our faculty and students push the boundaries of knowledge in three areas of strategic focus—the intersections of resilience and sustainability; big data and digital methods in studying cultures, politics, economies, and societies; and governance, globalization, and civic sustainability. Our community of scholars is committed to the innovative study of the past and to finding novel solutions for problems of the present. Faculty and students engage equally with peoples and cultures around the globe and with local Boston neighborhoods and organizations.
Experiential learning in support of the liberal arts for us means faculty-student research; cooperative education in a broad range of international, national and local organizations; study abroad; research projects in classrooms that meaningfully contribute to solutions to current problems; and service-learning. For our faculty, the experiential liberal arts means conducting world-class research in the social sciences and the humanities as well as engaging with broader audiences through policy advice, commentary in the national and international media, and a long-standing commitment to the public humanities.
Here are a few examples of how we integrate the study of the liberal arts with experiential education:
- A Northeastern research team that includes Professor Amy Farrell, doctoral student Rebecca Pfeffer, and undergraduate Ryan Heitsmith from our School of Criminology and Criminal Justice released the largest study to date examining labor trafficking in the United States, including policy and practice recommendations to combat the problem of forced labor in this country.
- In the Dialogue of Civilizations program—a short-term, summer study abroad opportunity first developed in our college—faculty members lead undergraduates to another part of the world, for example to Ireland, Zambia, Costa Rica, or China, where students take two complementary courses and immerse themselves in the culture, politics, language, and society of another country.
- Undergraduate and graduate students have made key research contributions to the Viral Texts project led by English Professor Ryan Cordell. The project asks how text went viral in the 19th-century United States and has been featured on NPR, in The Atlantic, and in other national media outlets.
- Each year, the Humanities Center sponsors a resident fellowship program for faculty and graduate students in which interdisciplinary scholars collaborate around a common research theme. Past topics have included “Viral Culture,” “Space and Place,” and “By Design.”
- With the assistance of an interdisciplinary team of faculty mentors, graduate students in a capstone class led by Professors James Connolly, Gavin Shatkin, and Alicia Sasser-Modestino designed an award-winning affordable housing plan for one Boston neighborhood. The students’ plan will have a significant influence on an actual housing development.
- Undergraduate students learn and practice responsible philanthropy while providing assistance to Boston communities in the Northeastern Students4Giving program. Over the course of a year, Northeastern students complete an entire grant-giving cycle that ends in giving funds to local nonprofits determined by a rigorous review process.
- In a core course on critical infrastructure resilience in the Security and Resilience Studies Master’s program, teams of students devised recommendations for Logan Airport in Boston on how to manage catastrophic risks and presented their solutions to lead administrators at Massport.
- Political science major Stan Phanord pursued a research co-op at the Defense and Promotion of Human Rights office in Saint-Louis, Senegal where he studied the “Talibe boys.” Upon returning to campus, he wrote a policy paper for his capstone class with his recommendations for helping these children. Subsequently these recommendations were submitted to the Senegalese government.
As dean, I am proud of the work of our students and faculty in the experiential liberal arts. I encourage you to explore our website to learn more about our exciting academic programs, research initiatives, and public engagement activities.
Uta Poiger, Dean